Corporate bonds, because they offer higher yields than government bonds, are trading at very thin spreads to government bonds in the yield-starved investment world. As government bond yields move up, corporate bond yields will move up even more. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:
It’s just a question of how disruptive the adjustment will be, whether it will be just a painful sell-off or junk-bond mayhem.
Treasury securities have been selling off and Treasury yields have been rising, with the two-year yield at 2.15% on Friday, the highest since September 2008, and the 10-year yield at 2.84%, the highest since April 2014. Rising yields mean that bond prices are falling, and this selloff has been an uncomfortable experience for holders of Treasury securities.
But corporate bonds have been in their own la-la-land, and even Tesla, despite its cash-burn rate that should scare the bejesus out of investors, was able to sell $546 million in bonds last week – bonds collateralized by lease payments it receives from customers that have leased its cars.
S&P rates Tesla “B-minus,” a highly speculative rating just one notch above the deep-junk rating of triple-C. But no problem. Yield-desperate, risk-blind bond investors had the hots for these auto-lease-backed securities, according to Bloomberg:
The sought-after debt deal allowed Tesla to slash the risk premiums it would pay on the notes. They were sold to yield between 2.3 percent and 5 percent. At initial offered prices, investors had put in orders for as much as 14 times what the electric-car maker intended to sell on some slices of an asset-backed security, according to people familiar with the matter.
Junk-rated and cash-burning Netflix, or oil-and-gas companies drilling billions into their fracking endeavors, and many other junk-rated companies such as Fiat-Chrysler are in hog-heaven, with high demand for their debt, which pushes down the yield for investors and the costs of borrowing for the companies.
And the spread between average junk-bond yields and equivalent Treasury yields has now fallen to just 3.29 percentage points. That’s the premium investors demand to be paid for taking on the additional risk of junk bonds versus Treasury securities.
To continue reading: Corporate Bond Market in Worst Denial since 2007